Oil addiction… the phrase to make ordinary people feel guilty.

The usually thoughtful Christian Science Monitor has a long essay about Oil crises. Between Katrina and other hurricanes messing up the Gulf oil rigs, Chavez in charge of Venezuela, Putin’s Russia using oil threats to stop Europe from letting the US defend them against Iranian missles, and, of course, the usual unrest in the Middle East, the price of oil has gone up. Good analysis, sir. But what’s your solution?…
WINDPOWER–even Teddy Kennedy stopped a windmill in his back yard, because it destroyed the view.

Ethanol? Mexican tortilla prices have soared due to making ethanol from corn.

Biodiesel was used during the war here in SE Asia, so people think it’s a good idea. We used it during World War II. But what about ecological degradation and deforestation here in SE Asia caused by palm farms to supply biodiesel?

“What the US needs is what Europe and Japan are already successfully using to reduce carbon-fuel consumption: a hefty energy tax. A truly imaginative US initiative would be to devise ways to channel some of any such tax money into needed investments in energy infrastructure at home and abroad.”

yup. Spread on the guilt. Copy Europe, where France had 14 000 elderly die a couple summers back because they didn’t bother to have air conditioning.

You know, Europe, where happy little people travel everywhere by efficient trains, not bad cars…you know, tiny little Europe, where you can cross an entire country in three hours?

But the dirty little secret about Europe and trains is…they don’t use them…for freight. Check the tonnage: The US sends 37% of freight entirely by rail, but Europe it is only 7%—LINK2 shows the US with 2.5 million kmtons of freight moved by rail vs 24 thousand kmtons in Europe…

As for cars, yup. Encourage the yuppies in Boston to buy a Prius, but in Oklahoma, you need a pickup or large car to haul stuff, even if you live in Tulsa. You ever fit three kids, a week’s worth of groceries, and various hardware into a Mini?

“Sure, it’s difficult and unpopular to tax energy. But failing such a drastic solution (and better US diplomacy), American oil consumers, as well as those in Europe and Asia, may experience new crosswinds of geopolitics and war. ”

Ummm…the largest supplier of US oil is…Canada. Even if the US becomes oil import free, geopolitics will continue. You know why? In one word: ASIA.

It is nice to romanticize the simple rural life here in Asia. But what you don’t see is the backbreaking labour it involved.

Yes, we still have to hire men to plant the rice seedlings by hand, but now we can drive to the next city to buy high yield seeds, fertilizer, and the harder work of mulching and preparing the soil is now done with a hand plow instead of the eco friendly caribao…(of course, caribaos like other oxen produce methane, a global warming gas…LINK.)

With diesel pumps, we can get two harvests instead of just one.

And after we use our diesel thresher to get the rice off the stalks, we usually dry rice in an eco friendly way: we spread it out on the roads, parking lots, and basketball courts. But when we have late rains, like we did last year, it means that the rice does not dry, and is ruined by mold. The alternative is to use driers…yup. They use energy…either diesel or electricity.

Another way to save energy is not use light bulbs. We use fluorescent bulbs, but they are more expensive, so again poor people are the ones left in the dark.

And instead of denuding forests for wood, we use propane. It’s cheaper than electricity, and you can buy tanks everywhere. How do we replace this? Solar cookers? Will they work during Monsoon season?

But the really big energy guzzler is not even mentioned: Air conditioning.

The dirty little secret is if you eliminate airconditioners, half the sunbelt will move back to Iowa and Massachusetts.

Like “global warming”, the term “oil addiction” seems mainly about making one feel guilty about being comfortable.

But the dirty little secret is that even with all the changes he recommends, the need for cheap energy will soar, not because the US public is “addicted to oil” but because people in China and Thailand and the Philippines prefer the comforts of modern life to the good old days of working 12 hours a day bent over in the rice fields.

So stop using guilt on ordinary folks who are probably trying their best, and make tax breaks for industries to develop cheap, energy efficient ways for people to live comfortably———————————

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She tries to be energy efficient by not using her air conditioner until the temperature hits 90degrees. The bad news is that in the Philippines it hits 90 degrees 300 days a year.

Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, but when she really gets annoyed, she writes longer screeds to Podkayne’s blog.

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